Thursday, October 28, 2010

Parramatta Learning Community for Sustainability meeting - 2

On a sparkling spring day on 8 September representatives from thirteen schools met in the new school hall, at St Francis of Assisi Primary Glendenning for the second LCfS meeting. Cheryl Boyle (Learning Support Teacher) invited the visitors to see the Kitchen Garden and told the story of how, “From Little Things Big Things Grow”
A delicious morning tea was prepared by the students with the help of the Learning Support team. “Schoolmade” lemonade with mint leaf ice blocks, strawberries dipped in chocolate, mini quiches with parsley and pumpkin soup, were among the specialties on offer. These were labeled with the core ingredients which students had used from the Kitchen Garden.
Guest speakers were Jacqueline Remond, National Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia and Zhan Patterson, Sustainable Resources Engagement Officer - Blacktown City Council. Jacqui began formation work for ASSISI (A Strategic Systems based Integrated Sustainability Initiative) by presenting Module 1: Awakening, which asks the question: “What is your relationship with God’s Creation?”
Zhan presented a brief overview of Sustainability Education and posed the question: “What does this mean for educators?” Each school was given the opportunity to share what is happening at their school and topics ranged from Kitchen Gardens (focusing on a Naturalistic Approach to Language) to Waste Free Wednesdays, to plans for Wetlands and Olive Groves!
Resources, helpful websites and photos provided inspiration for how to start when making an “All Things Green” school.
The next meeting will be held at St Bernadette’s Primary Lalor Park on Wednesday 24 November, with morning tea being served at 11am, followed by the meeting, 11.30 – 1.30pm …… all welcome! Jacqui and Zhan will again be presenting …. for more information please contact Clare Maloney – Itinerant Teacher: Communication, on 0410 220 245 or email


Monday, October 18, 2010

Parramatta Learning Community for Sustainability meeting - 1

Jacqueline Remond, National Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, visits Nano Cottage Kitchen Garden, at St Michael’s Primary Blacktown 

On Wednesday 28 April a gathering of Principals and Assistant Principals met at Nano Cottage Kitchen Garden to hear Jacqui speak about ASSISI – A Strategic Systems-based Sustainability Initiative.

The participants were welcomed to the Cottage by the Language Group students and shown around the Kitchen Garden. Those present were:

Michael Scilliano:  Acting Principal, St Michael’s Blacktown South
Robert Muscat:     Assistant Principal, Nagle College Blacktown
Phillip Mahony:     Principal, St Francis of Assisi Glendenning
Kevin Mills:          Principal, St Patrick’s Blacktown
Cheryl Walsh:       Principal, St Bernadette’s Lalor Park
Richard Grech:     Assistant Principal, Delany College Granville
Gary Borg:            Principal, Mother Teresa Westmead
Jane Misek:          Acting Principal, Greystanes

The group decided to meet again as “Parramatta Learning Community for Sustainability” on Wednesday 8 September at 11.30am, at St Francis of Assisi, Glendenning to continue the conversation with Jacqui. This group is open to all interested schools looking to “do things differently” as regards protecting the environment.

Check out for further information re ASSISI

For further information re Kitchen Gardens in schools please contact Clare Maloney via email

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Opening of Nano Cottage Kitchen Garden

On Wednesday 11 November 2009, at 11.11am the school community of St Michael’s Primary, Blacktown South held a Blessing and Opening Ceremony to officially open the new Nano Cottage Kitchen Garden.

St Michael’s Primary and Nagle College are located on the same site so they share the Nano Cottage Garden, which is named after Nano Nagle, the founder of the Presentation Sisters who established Nagle College.

Nano Cottage was established in 2002 as a venue in which to conduct Nano Cottage Language Groups, a collaborative project of local primary and secondary school communities, St Michael’s Parish and the Catholic Education Office, Parramatta. The cottage is a place where students with language learning needs can stimulate and enhance their oral language skills in a naturalistic environment.

In the relaxed informal setting of the garden the students, ranging in age from Kindergarten to Year 6, feel more comfortable talking to each other and it encourages spontaneous interaction between them.
Clare Maloney, Itinerant Teacher: Communication, from the Catholic Education Office said the garden had already proven to be a significant tool in developing the talking and listening skills of students with oral language needs.

‘The students have become vigilant gardeners! They water, weed and harvest and they know how to save dry seeds from peas, marigolds and sunflowers and exclaim over sprouting garlic cloves, onions and potatoes,’ said Clare.
‘It is a joy to watch these students shine as they participate in hands on activities as Nano ‘master chefs’ and ‘little diggers’ in the kitchen garden.

The garden is completely organic, so raw untreated materials were sourced and a compost bin is used to dispose of foods scraps from the canteen. The mulch is of the anti termite, anti rot and soft fall variety, so it is suitable for the students to work and play in.
The garden beds have been filled using a ‘no dig’ approach. Newspaper was laid down by the students, followed by lucerne hay then soil and sugar cane mulch. A feature in the centre of the garden is a cross made from pavers to recognise the Catholic faith and an olive tree to symbolise hope (as it has survived many ‘sheep munches’).

The creation of the garden was a combined effort from students and staff at St Michael’s and Nagle College as well as members of the local community. Blacktown City Council contributed $750 in funding as part of a kitchen garden trial project under the Eco Active Schools Program. Bunnings, Blacktown also contributed by donating materials such as bamboo stakes, a compost bin, seed raising mix, potting mix, organic mulch and a variety of seeds. Plants and seedlings were donated by the parents of the Nano Cottage Language Groups, and from teachers at nearby St Francis of Assisi Primary, Glendenning and St Patrick’s Primary, Blacktown.

The designated area was cleared by volunteers from the local community and Technology and Applied Sciences students from Patrician Brothers’ College constructed the 1.5m square timber flowerbeds. Years 3, 4 and 6 students sourced pictures to use as labels and painted colourful flowers and symbols on the sides of the garden beds.

Students from the Nano Cottage Language Groups will continue to use the garden to harvest, prepare and share fresh food and other students will participate in garden activities which are relevant to the curriculum.